Bollywood celeb advocates hand washing at the United Nations General Assembly

| October 14, 2013

Sanitation meets stardom. The 68th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) witnessed Bollywood celeb, Kajol Devgn campaigning for hand washing to reduce child mortality. Kajol advocated the cause at the Social Good Summit held at the UN Week in New York from September 23 to 25.

Kajol at the Social Good Summit, UN Week

Kajol (second from left) with Unilever CEO Paul Polman (left) and other dignitaries. Image courtesy: Unilever Twitter feed.

Speaking at the Social Good Summit, along with other notable speakers like Al Gore and Melinda Gates, Kajol remarked that over 90 percent of the 2 million deaths occurring in children under the age of five, take place in Africa and Asia. To demonstrate the magnitude of the problem, she added, “Imagine 40 Boeing 747s crashing every single day.” The actress appealed to the policymakers and government to push hand washing programs to achieve one of the eight Millennium Development Goals — reduction in child mortality.

The UNGA brought together world leaders, key opinion makers, and policy makers and laid focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of benchmarks they hope to achieve by 2015.

Hand washing helps children make it to adulthood

Two million children die before they reach the age of five due to diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia — a result of poor hand hygiene among other factors. Clinical research shows that hand washing with soap on key occasions, such as after using the restroom and handling animals, and before eating can cut the risk of diarrhea by up to 45 percent.

Kajol is a part of Lifebouy’s ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ campaign in India, which promotes hand washing with soap, one village at a time. The campaign kick-started in Madhya Pradesh in central India in a village called Thesgora, which has the highest incidences of diarrhea among children, globally.

Under the hand washing operation, children and their families are provided with hand hygiene education to prevent life-threatening diseases due to contaminated hands.

Inspired by a real-life event, Lifebuoy's campaign video tells the story of Gondappa,
 a father who walks for miles on his hands to a village temple to
 thank God for keeping his son alive to see his fifth birthday.

Lifebuoy Global Brand Vice President, Samir Singh says, “Our goal is to change the hand washing behaviours of 1 billion people by 2015; we have reached 130 million people so far.” Lifebuoy aims in spreading this initiative across villages in South and Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America in the near future. The company’s similar initiative in a village cluster in Ghana resulted in a 22 percent increase in handwashing. The average length of handwashing also increased. Moreover, the effects of good hand hygiene spread to children’s parents who used 18 percent more soap than the control group.

The campaign in India gave policymakers an opportunity to perceive hand washing with soap and overall hygiene as a factor to reduce child mortality, meet MDG’s 2015 deadline and post-2015 agendas too.

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Category: Restrooms

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